Melbourne Victory brought their academy program to the Border on the weekend with two young soccer fans relishing the experience.
Around 60 talented players between the ages of nine and 13 took part in the pre-academy program under the guidance of Victory Academy staff Drew Sherman, Gareth Naven, Grant Brebner, Jake Moyle and Martin Bullock.
The aim of the visit was to provide training sessions and workshops over the two days to help identity players in the region with the potential to join the academy program, with Border boys Linus Bourke, 14, and Ryan Kemp, 12, selected to join the ranks.
Sherman said he believes it's important to provide opportunities such as these for young soccer stars outside major city centres and is happy to have the two juniors on board.
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"In regional areas, we know there are talented players in places like Albury-Wodonga," Sherman said.
"That's why we're up here for the couple of days, to make sure we give these kids a sample of what life is like in the academy program at Melbourne Victory and keep an eye on how they're progressing.
"We've offered two young boys the chance to join the program at Melbourne Victory into the academy itself from the pre-academy here.
"They've shown a lot of potential through our recruitment process and we're glad that they've decided to commit to come down and be part of the program."
With Melbourne Victory being one of three professional soccer clubs in Victoria, Sherman said he placed great importance on having a presence across the entire state.
One thing he said the academy placed emphasis on is the character shown by young soccer hopefuls.
"It's almost a given the kids from regional areas are committed and hard-working, which are the traits you'd suggest," Sherman said.
"That's something we look at and value highly, so it's an exciting time for us to have identified a couple of boys."
The Academy coach was also impressed with the talent of Border girls, seeing plenty of potential in the rising stars.
"We know there are girls here in Albury-Wodonga that are absolutely well on the pathway to hopefully having careers in our W-League team," Sherman said.
"The opportunity they have here in Albury-Wodonga through the NPL club Murray United means they're always striving to continue their development, because they're pushed by the boys.
"What we've seen is some of the girls who are now 13, 14, 15 years old have accelerated their development, and that for us is really exciting.
"I'm sure we'll see girls from this area go on to be successful on the national stage."